It doesn’t matter where you come from; a little bit or a lot of your heart will stay in your home country…
It’s exciting, living in a foreign country where the language is not your own, where things are different & new.
When one thinks of a life in Rome, they may think glamour…fun…but realising that home is so far away can take it’s toll…
If only for a brief moment the young lady wanted to be herself away from the scrutiny of eyes she did not know and those who judged her regardless. Was she from eastern Europe, a babysitter, a secretary or a rich man’s lover?
Only she knew the answers, only she knew who she was as the eyes and taunting faces questioned her and mocked. Some of the women perhaps, were even envious of her and that she’d left her country, family and friends to settle in a new one…she looked different this is true and she dressed differently too and of course she sounded different, Italian was not her mother tongue.
Why had she come here, why had she left her home so comfortable and secure? She had been to university, she was clever. Wasn’t she? Doubt filled her thoughts as the countless faces trudged passed her as she made her way home, hands laden with bags of groceries. Only servants trudged kilometres with bags in this city. They were heavy too and she’d had to park so far away.
She wanted to be home, in the confines of her appartment where the eyes could no longer see her and she could be herself.
All paths lead home…don’t they?
Now this is ‘bello’
She waved as she approached, dissecting me into hundreds of minuscule pieces. ‘Ciao bella’, she grabbed me and fleetingly touched my cheek to hers, lips pursed and then with the other cheek she repeated the ritual.
‘Ciao Mara’, I responded. I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks. ‘Quanto sei bella’, she stood back and continued to dissect me, ‘you are BEAUTIFUL’. I was always taken aback by the word ‘bella’. It seemed to be used so effortlessly and in my mind was not a good ‘truth’ indicator. People who barely knew each other would tap cheek to cheek and say,’ ciao bella’. Do you really think that I am bella? I asked myself time and time again. Do you really think that it is wise to call a person you have just met and do not know bella? How language differs country to country. In English, it would be highly unusual to address someone with ‘hi beautiful’. Even people who know you would think it strange!
I felt a tinge of embarrassment whenever anyone said ‘ciao bella’. I really didn’t know how to take it and it took me a decade to become acquainted with it’s usage. Needless to say the words didn’t slip off my tongue very easily.
A sea of cobbled streets
The gypsy’s perspective is one that is not acknowledged on the cobbled streets of Rome.They are regarded as beggars and thieves. Maybe this is a fragment of what their lives might resemble if we were to walk in their shoes:
Mother of four children
Lives in a caravan in the outskirts of Rome.
Gravely ill with MS (undiagnosed)
” I can hardly take a breath under here. The black hood covers my head as I inhale the filth of the cobbled road beneath me. The winter chill has possessed my bones and I am chronically sick. I have walked kilometres in the last few days. What I own is on my back, my feet are worn and dirty. They jeer me you know, they think I am vermon, they don’t know where I have come from and how much sufferance I endure. To them I am faceless, the beggar with no identity. Some toss me a few coins, others ignore me and one or two tut-tut as they pass. I hear them beneath my layered rags. I hear the words, the blasphemy. My numb hands rolled into fists are practically lifeless but my hearing is faultless.
When approaching footsteps hasten I know they will not stop or look my way but when the footsteps hesitate and then slow to a halt I know there is a chance the odd coin will be thrown my way.
They don’t know where I have come from and how much sufferance I endure”.
Santa Prisca, the Aventine church in Rome
“If I stood in one spot for this long there was a reason. Studying the oil painting, in the small and humble church of Santa Prisca in Rome, was mesmerising. I was transfixed, the detail in his cumbersome hands, the pain, the anguish and the solace in his virtuous face. How could it be that there was pain and solace? Broken fingernails caked with dirt and hardship. Yet his face was serene, perfect even as his head tilted upwards. I was the intruder as I stood unable to shift my gaze from the beauty before me.
The chatter of a group of tourists broke the silence. The adolescents whispered and sniggered behind faces that quite simply were unable to appreciate the significance or majesty of what was before them, juxtaposed by the modesty of the tiny church the oil painting was a masterpiece, hopefully one day they would recall the importance of their brief visit.”
Leaving behind the eternal city…
As an adjunct to yesterday’s blog ‘Country Touched’ I thought it opportune to talk about how I came to spend a year in Tasmania.
After much deliberation and careful planning which included selling our apartment in Rome, giving up our jobs (we were both self employed) and with a six year old and a babe in arms we took on the high spirited challenge to come to Australia to live permanently. We brought some worldy possessions with us in a container which arrived 6 weeks after us. Fortunately, we were able to live in mum and dad’s B&B which was fully equipped with everything. It was a great way to start.
For me it was a return to my homeland and for my Roman husband it was leaving behind his.
It is not easy to leave one’s home. What remains is the residue of token moments shredded into fragmented recall of time spent with family and friends. One tends to live in the past constantly reminiscing about what was and what was left behind. Don’t get me wrong taking the plunge and leaving your country is because you crave the adventure and something new or different from what you know. At least that was what it was for me when armed for adventure I left Australia. But after 10 years living in a foreign country. Which was always a foreign country even though I did call it home for 10 years it was not the country I was born in or did it have my close knit family. After the birth of my son, my second child, I felt alone and depressed partly because the hormones had kicked in with vengeance but also quite simply I missed the simplicity of the simple Australian life. I was born and bred in Sydney but when mum and dad purchased a thoroughbred horse stud in the North West of Tasmania, I fell in awe of the country life and land every time I holidayed with my little girl.
So now I’ll take you back to yesterday’s blog and hope that today it may make more sense to those who had wondered where it all began or how it had become….
In Rome getting close to nature is impossible and when you eventually come into contact with it, you are in essence ‘Country Touched’.
If my first novel memoir ever gets published then I do have plans to write a book about my year in Tasmania down the beaten track because it was an adventure splashed with the exploration of unknown territory in a little isle perched closest to Antarctica.
Thanks for reading…
The blue sky hangs high over the grassy field. The noise of galahs and cockatoos breaks the silence as they fly by watching and listening. A new day has begun.
Within the hour, Dave will let the cattle into their new yard. It’s certainly in need of a trimming. The sun kissed mountains are illuminated in the background and the frost dampened grass squelches beneath my boots. Bending down, I gently caress the wet strands between my fingertips. Soon, the hungry cattle will dine on this scrumptious feast.
I love the Australian countryside; the crispness in the air and the authenticity that each new day brings.
Nature and her tunes unfold as regularly as the strongest heartbeat. © wordjotter
(Memories of a year in Tasmania)
Does it get any worse than this?
Let me take a split second to off load my armful of barbies, pour a cuppa and sit in my writing chair. Let me savour this non chaotic moment for just a moment, thanks….
Ok, so I got to thinking, If one could eliminate the time spent travelling on flights to places far and beyond and just arrive… Wouldn’t they be an inventive genius? You know, ‘Like I Dream of Jeannie’? In the batter of an eyelid she was where she wanted to be.
Plane travel; it is not the place to spread out and relax if you are unfortunate enough to travel with the cattle. Moo. To extend ones limbs is oh but a dream, un sogno.One holds onto the ambitious ideology that the hours will eventually end (which they do) and that the confined space will be taken away. Feet will be put to steady ground and arms and legs will be free to fill spaces that they were intended to.
Another horrid flying fact is, what if you don’t like your neighbour? I once had a man sitting or rather lying next to me who picked and flicked his toe nails on a long haul flight from Sydney to Bangkok. I was repulsed, I was gagging and I was ready to vomit as I sheltered my toddler from the gruesome creature. But where could I go? What could I do? I reported him to the stewardess whose calm programmed response was to stare at me blankly and retort ‘there is nothing I can do Maam…’ I hate being called ‘Maam’ I find it a word that is degrading for some reason. That nightmarish flight lasted an eternity. We were prisoners. There was only a certain number of times that I could walk the aisles in a state of nauseated and sleep deprived zombieness. Thankfully, the gent in question was not on the next leg of the flight to Rome.
We travel to see and do. It is true ‘the more you see, the more you want to see’. Sometimes remaining stagnant and staple gunned to your own existence is a more viable altenative. Generally, you can save yourself about $2000 in flights and avoid an infuriating neighbour on a flight lasting an eternity.
Are we all really just gluttons for punishment or is sufferance more supportable than seeing and learning nothing?
Or maybe I should just travel business class, they say it’s definitely worth it. Maybe it’s like having an epidural as opposed to giving birth naturally.
But that’s another story…